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Black lives matter, and learning resources

How to be an ally

How to be an ally | PoliticsJOE | 12 Jun 2020 | 4m 42s

Transcript with links to books and individuals mentioned

"So, you don't like racism but you live in the UK and feel powerless to do anything. My name is Obioma Ugoala. I'm an actor and a writer. Over the past few weeks I've had several conversations with friends of mine horrified at the events unfolding in the United States, and unsure how to show their solidarity. This is a brief video offering a few suggestions.

  • Recognise anti-blackness
    Firstly, let's acknowledge that global anti-blackness is a real thing. It manifests differently in different countries, but it has been an economic driving force for centuries. This is a fact, not an attack.
  • Recognise the UK's legacy
    Secondly, the UK has a history of atrocious crimes, from year or actual genocide to the pillaging of nations' natural resources. We can only move past this fact if we address it. We haven't, don't and must. The question, then, is why?
  •  Expand your reading list
    To Kill a Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry are wonderful books for children and young adults.

However, they are the few books used to discuss racism in a UK classroom begins the lifelong myth that racism is a US problem. You can study history from the age of seven to twenty-one in a UK classroom, and never have to go into any depth about the UK's role in colonising, and depriving nations of their freedoms, rights and resources. It is a glaring hole not only in our children's education but, by proxy, ours. As an adult, we can begin to plug these gaps in our collective educational knowledge? The following book suggestions may offer a starting point. Honestly telling Britain's past, present, and where we might go from here.

And now for some frequently asked questions.

Is Black Lives Matter only about the police?
No. Unfortunately not. So, whilst Taser usage on black Londoners is four times that of their white counterparts it extends further than the justice system. Black Caribbean children for instance, is three and a half times more likely to be excluded at primary, secondary and special schools than all other pupils. Whilst Premier League footballers are to this day still suffering racist monkey chants that many had thought left back in the 1980s.

Does this apply to me?
I'm not racist. I don't see colour. I just see the person. We need you to see colour. If you can't, or won't… How can you be an effective ally? How can you hear of somebody is making racist comments? Or see if your colleague is giving your black co-worker a hard time?

In the words of Angela Davis, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist. And so, for anybody who wants to be an ally to the course, I would offer these for suggestions.

  • Educate yourself and others. There could be a book, film, or podcast. It could be your friend, lover, colleague, or children.
  • Support Black artists. Listen to, commission, and pay for your black artists writers and speakers. Statements like 'you will be paid in exposure' will no longer wash and are not true allyship.
  • Speak up. Be that using your platform on social media, calling out your colleagues' missteps, or writing to your MP when you witness an injustice. You have more power than you know. It is very easy for brands, newspapers and TV companies to tweet a hashtag. But your money speaks so demand more.
  •  Accept that you will get it wrong sometimes. None of us are born knowing all of the answers. The writer Ijeoma Oluo says "The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, even if that in yourself. And it's the only way forward."

So, I would offer, be brave in your humility. As the saying goes: this is not a moment, it's a movement. And the struggle continues tomorrow."

Related internal links to other parts of this website

Black Lives Matter Movements, and learning resources | MEN R US
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic LGBT+ organisations | MEN R US
Racism and gay men | MEN R US
The word is out | MEN R US

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